State school's budget committee delays cuts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State school's budget committee delays cuts

Georgina Kawamura Georgina Kawamura
Garrett Toguchi Garrett Toguchi

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Department of Education's Budget Committee once again delayed its decision on how to cut nearly a half billion dollars over the next two years.

The recommended cuts are out on the table, but BOE officials are still urging lawmakers to save Hawaii's schools from big furloughs and cutbacks by going into special session and finding other sources of revenue.

"When I first heard about the budget cuts my reaction was laughter along with frustration," said a high school football coach.

One by one.

"16 coaching positions and 199 athletes affected," said a high school coach.

Administrators.

"The numbers calculate to about $35,000," said a middle school principal.

Teachers.

"The school system has 2 hours a day less instruction that most of the national average," said a special education teacher.

And students took the hot seat.

"We didn't have enough money to begin with, we were cut by 10% and now we're being cut even more," said a student.

They all urged The Department of Education's Budget Committee to think carefully and thoughtfully about the latest proposed cuts.

"Students, teachers, school administrators and classified staff didn't create this economic mess," said a high school principal.

"We need to make up $688 million. We are now waiting, holding our breath to see how we can close the gap June 30th," said State Budget Director Georgina Kawamura.

This committee must slim down spending by about 14-percent, with more than 150 proposed spending cuts. There's everything from athletics and special education, to student leadership programs. But, the officials says they can't make an informed decision yet.

"The governor still hasn't signed the state budget bill and because of that any decisions that we take today may have to be altered," said Board Chair Garrett Toguchi.

Whether it's raising the General Excise Tax, the Rainy Day Fund, or raiding $180 million from the Hurricane Relief Fund, officials want to explore alternatives. That's where lawmakers come in.

"We sent a letter today to the Hawaii Senate President and House Speaker asking that they go back into special session," said Toguchi.

Unions are still in the middle of negotiations but the BOE says it's considering at most, 30-furlough days a year for teachers. But, the main goal remains to preserve as many instructional days as possible.

The school board will make its final budget decisions at a special meeting July 1st.

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